Costumes

  • Aberlour Highland Games

    Taking place on the first Saturday of August, is Aberlour Highland Games. Set in an idyllic setting, on the banks of the Spey, in the beautiful little village of Aberlour, the Games attract more than 5,000 visitors annually. An afternoon celebrating all things Scottish. Including the usual Heavy Weight events, Track & Field, Highland dancing, and performances from a number of pipe bands. You can even take part in a 'Haggis Hurling Competition' Great day out for all the family. ... Read More

  • Beltane Festival

    Beltane is an ancient Gaelic holiday celebrated around 1 May, historically celebrated in Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. It is a fire festival that celebrates the coming of summer and the renewed fertility of the coming year.The festival survives in folkloric practices in these nations (and the diaspora), and has experienced a degree of revival in recent decades, not only in the British Isles, but also in countries further afield such as the USA. The word Beltane is thought to have derived from a Gae... Read More

  • Bridal traditions - Scottish

    Sixpence in the Bride's Shoe A sixpence (silver coin) placed in a bride's shoe is believed to bring her good luck. Possibly related to the last line (less well known than the rest) of:

    Something old, something new Something borrowed, something blue And a silver sixpence in her shoe
    Each of the above is believed to bring good luck and a happy marriage. "Something old" for continuity with the past and with her family; . "Something new" to bring hope for... Read More

  • Burry Man of South Queensferry

    The Burryman or Burry Man is the central figure in an annual procession which takes place on the second Friday in August in South Queensferry, north of Edinburgh, on the south bank of the Firth of Forth. The custom is associated with, but separate from, the town's Ferry Fair. The meaning and origins of this ceremony are now unclear. The Burry Man himself is a local man almost completely covered, as the image illustrates, in sticky burrs, leaving only the shoes, hands and two eye holes exposed. On the day, h... Read More

  • Callander Highland Games

    This is a two day Highland Games which includes strongest man competition, women's caber tossing. police tug of war, dog show and battle re-inactments ... Read More

  • Chinese New Year

    The Chinese community in Scotland, originating from both Mainland China and Hong Kong, numbers just over 10,000 people with the most significant population in Glasgow. Charing Cross and Garnethill are two areas of Glasgow that have become Scotland’s Chinatown. Like other Chinese communities worldwide, the Scottish Chinese have their own New Year celebrations, which have now become a significant feature of the Scottish winter cultural calendar, particularly in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Organisations such as t... Read More

  • Cockenzie and Port Seton Gala

    Cockenzie and Port Seton Gala day is held annually on a Saturday at the end of May/beginning of June. Floats carrying fancy dress contestants and local Primary School children selected to be ‘the court’: ‘Queen’, ‘Ladies in waiting’, 'Queen’s Escort’ and assorted followers. All move off in a parade through the villages of Port Seton and Cockenzie starting at the Port Seton Centre. The first stop on the route is to lay a wreath at the local war memorial on the green. The parade then contin... Read More

  • Common Ridings / Riding of the Marches

    Several towns of the Scottish Borders (and other areas in the south of Scotland) have festivals related to the historical tradition of ridng a town or Burgh's boundaries. Todays festivals attract many visitors, but most of the lesser ones only started in the 1930s and later and are not actually 'Common Ridings'. The Common, often gifted to the burgh by the King of Scots, had to be ridden on a regular basis to ensure that no neighbouring barons had breached the boundaries. These were not, like today, stone w... Read More

  • Comrie Flambeaux

    As the bells ring out on Hogmanay people line the streets of the Perthshire village of Comrie to watch their annual procession welcoming in the New Year. A pipe band leads marchers carrying flaming torches (made of long thick birch poles with tarred rags tied to the top) who are followed by the fancy dress parade. At the end of the proceedings the torches are thrown over the Dalginross Bridge into the River Earn (traditionally believed to cast out of evil). Everyone then gets on with another more widespread... Read More

  • Dragon Boat Racing

    Four boats raced at part of series of events, organised as part of China Now in Scotland, which raised funds to support the Tayside Chinese Community Centre and Dundee Chinese school. There are many Dragon boat races that take place throughout Scotland. On May 30th 2010, Consul General Tan Xiutian attended the Dragon Boat Race at the invitation of Dumfries and Galloway's Provost, Jack Groom. The event was organised by the city Council and Rotary Club with strong support from the local Chinese Community. (so... Read More

  • Eaglesham Fair

    This biennial fair seems to have its origins in several fairs and shows dating back to the 17th century. In 1672, after a successful petition to the Scottish Parliament by the 8th Earl of Eglinton, an act was passed authorising a yearly fair on the 24th April as well as a weekly market in the kirk toun of Eaglesham. The kirk toun was gaining in importance as the centre for a scattered community of around 126 ferm touns. The act mentions that Eaglesham was an ideal place for a fair and market due to the f... Read More

  • Edinburgh Festival

    The Edinburgh Festival is a collective term for various simultaneous arts and cultural festivals which take place during August and early September each year in Edinburgh. These festivals are arranged by a number of formally unrelated organisations, meaning that there is no single event officially termed the Edinburgh Festival. The oldest festivals are the Edinburgh International Festival, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, both of which started in 1947. Other more recent additions include the Military Tat... Read More

  • Edinburgh Festival Fringe

    Since it started in 1947, as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival, 'The Fringe' has grown to become the world's largest arts festival. The festival covers a wide range of arts, including theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre. opera and others. The Fringe runs for approximately three weeks in August.... Read More

  • Edinburgh Mela

    Mela is a sanskrit word meaning ‘gathering’ and is used to describe festivals in the Indian subcontinent.The Scottish Mela festivals are multicultural arts festivals that, while having their roots in South Asian culture, can now best be seen as celebrating wide diversity of cultural life in Scotland, featuring dance, music, crafts, food and fashion, not just from South Asia, but from all over the world. There are two annual Mela festivals in Scotland: one in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh. Edinburgh Me... Read More

  • Ferry Fair Edinburgh

    As the fair's website states, Queensferry’s annual Fair has been held in its present form since 1930, when it was revived after some years of absence as a regular event. But its roots date back even further for permission to hold the event was originally granted by King Charles 1 back in the year 1687. The Fair is a week-long event and is organised primarily as a festival of sports and entertainments for the children of the burgh, culminating in the crowning of a Ferry Fair Queen who is chosen from the ch... Read More

  • Fishermen's Ganseys

    Fishermen have been wearing ganseys (Guernseys) since about the start of the 17th Century - the design is said to have been developed in the Isle of Guernsey, just the same way that the term jersey originated from the neighbouring Channel Island of Jersey. Ganseys were knitted in un-oiled, soft, round, dark-blue 4 ply wool on four size 14 needles to make a firm, close fabric that was almost wind and waterproof. They were one-piece garments. A split had to be made at the underarm, the back and the front t... Read More

  • Gairloch Pattern Stockings

    This knitted pattern, which was unique to Gairloch, developed in the middle of the 19th century. At the time of the potato famine in the 1840s strenuous eorts were made by the lairds of Gairloch to provide work for the inhabitants. To provide an income for the women, knitting was encouraged using wool from local eeces, home spun and dyed with local plants taking advantage of the skills which many already possessed. To instruct them to a higher standard Lady Mackenzie of Gairloch employed an expert in knit... Read More

  • Glasgow Mela

    Background : Mela is a sanskrit word meaning ‘gathering’ and is used to describe festivals in the Indian subcontinent.The Scottish Mela festivals are multicultural arts festivals that, while having their roots in South Asian culture, can now best be seen as celebrating wide diversity of cultural life in Scotland, featuring dance, music, crafts, food and fashion, not just from South Asia, but from all over the world. There are two annual Mela festivals in Scotland: one in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh. ... Read More

  • Glasgow West End Festival

    Starting in 1996, the West End Festival has grown to become a two week long celebration of music, comedy, drama, outdoor theatre and many other activities in the city's West End. A collection of photographs from the 2009 festival can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/garlies/sets/72157619704317203/... Read More

  • Gourock Highland Games

    The first Gourock Highland Games was held on Saturday 21st July 1956 to celebrate the official opening of the new playing fields at Gourock Park. The Games were presided over by Chieftain Colonel Duncan Darroch, Laird of Gourock. Eight pipe bands competed and the West of Scotland Highland Dance Championship, which is still held in Gourock Park today, was instituted, with fifty-three dancers taking part. Other events included a 14 mile road race, adult, junior and schools flat and relay races, handicap high ... Read More

  • Guising

    Guising is the term given to the Scottish/Irish Halloween tradition of children going from house to house in the neighborhood in disguise (hence the term) and collecting food treats from the neighbors. The Scottish tradition of 'guising' can be traced back to Samhuinn where people would use masks and decorations to disguise themselves and scare away evil spirits. Also see Hallow'een traditions ... Read More

  • Hallow'een

    allowe'en (Halloween ), celebrated on October 31 derives from the Celtic festival Samhuinn. Children go around peoples' houses (traditionally in costumes or fancy dress), asking for sweets or money although some still (voluntarily or otherwise) perform a song, dance or tell a joke in order to deserve the householder's contribution. Money used to be saved towards buying fireworks for another celebration on 5th November, Guy Fawkes Night. American influence and marketing in recent years has seen this incre... Read More

  • Hawick Common Riding

    Hawick is the first of the Border Common-Ridings or festivals commemorating the custom of riding the boundaries of each parish or ‘march’. It also commemorates the townsmen’s capture of an English Flag in the early 16th century. The main Riding part of the festivities takes place over a Friday and Saturday in June. The lead figure is an elected ‘Cornet’, a young local man who carries out several ‘ride-outs’ in the area over the weeks preceding the main ‘common riding’ event with his suppor... Read More

  • Islay Pipe Band

    The Isle of Islay in the Inner Hebrides has a long tradition of pipe music. For almost two decades, the Islay Piping Society has been a significant feature of this longstanding musical heritage. Although history shows the formation of a pipe band in the early 1950’s, it wasn’t until 1992 that islanders decided to start the current Islay Pipe Band, which was then formed and registered with the Royal Pipe Band Association in Glasgow. The band - which holds regular weekly practices- plays at numerous local... Read More

  • Johnstone Festival

    This festival originated in the late 1800s, and today is a fun day out, free of charge, for the local area. A 'queen' is chosen by local people voting in a competition run through the local newspaper. Duties of the queen are to declare the festival open, visit all stalls in the park and also oversee the stage productions. There are vintage fire engines, community stalls, organised games, and a full programme of musical acts performed by music groups, school choirs, dance groups etc. And last but not least, ... Read More

  • Lanimer Day

    One of the conditions of Lanark being granted a Royal charter by King David I - thus becoming a Royal Burgh - was that the Burgesses of the town were required to examine their ‘March’ or boundaries every year and report back to the Crown. Lanark has carried this out every year since 1140, developing the ‘Land Marches’ into an annual celebration, "The Lanimers". The Monday evening marches (formerly done on horseback) now draw crowds of people. A Lord Cornet (the Standard Bearer) is chosen every ye... Read More

  • Lilias Day

    Lilias Day is a Kilbarchan festival said to be named after Lilias Cuninghame, daughter of an 18th century laird. In the past, Lilias Day was celebrated with a cattle market and races, with a procession through the village of men from different trades banging drums and waving flags. The Lilias Day tradition died out at the end of the 19th century, but has been restored in recent years. Nowadays the village is decorated with flags and there is a fancy dress parade which includes a Festival Queen and her ma... Read More

  • Masons' Walk at Rosehearty

    Natives of Rosehearty are drawn back to the town for this annual march, doubling its population for the day. 100 to 150 Masons take part, mostly from the local Masonic 'Lodge' but with representatives from other Lodges. The 'Walk' starts from the Lodge and progresses along the route through the town's streets arranged in order of: the March 'Marshall' and Director of Ceremonies followed by the bible bearer with sword bearers, the Pipe Band,junior and senior Deacons, ordinary Lodge members then Lodge Office-... Read More

  • Musselburgh Festival

    In 1935 a group of local people decided to start an 'Honest Toun' (Musselburgh) Association and annual festival which would reflect but not detract from Musselburgh's traditional Riding of the Marches. Each year an Honest Lad and Lass are elected from several nominees representing local wards and these carry out the traditional duties of the Honest Lad and Lass, leading or being the key figures in the events which make up the festival. Musselburgh's annual festival comprises several events including: ... Read More

  • Neilston Cattle Show

    The Neilston Cattle Show takes place annually on the 1st Saturday in May and brings together the entire community of this East Renfrewshire village. The first show took place in 1825 and its origins are in the cattle fairs which took place in the village several times a year. However, there are also two recorded explanations for it. The first is that two local farmers were having a dispute over who had the best prize bull. This turned into a contest to be judged by other local farmers and this in turn be... Read More

  • Papa Stour Sword Dance

    Papa Stour, Shetland, is famous for the Papa Stour Sword Dance, which portrays the seven saints of Christendom, the finale of which is a shield of interlocking swords. This dance was popular in the Middle Ages, known throughout Europe in different forms and described in Brugge The latest performance of the dance on the island was on the occasion of the official opening of the Stofa by the County Mayor of Hordaland, Norway, in August 2008. ... Read More

  • Penicuik Hunter and Lass Festival

    Penicuik's week of festivities takes place during the last week of May each year. Prior to this, in March, a local couple is selected to become Penicuik's Hunter and Hunter's Lass for that year to represent Penicuik in the many Scottish Border town celebrations. ... Read More

  • Ploughing March and Festival of the Horse

    The South Ronaldsay Boys' Ploughing Match and the Festival of the Horse This is an agricultural festival tradition - believed to be unique to Orkney - which dates back to at least the early 19th century but may have its roots in Viking times. This is a festival for young boys and girls from the island of South Ronaldsay, one of Orkney's south isles. There were similar festivals elsewhere in Orkney - particularly in the island of Stronsay (in which the "horses" were attached to the plough) but this is the... Read More

  • Police Pipe bands

    The tradition of Police Pipe bands extends beyond Scotland and across the world (particularly North America). As well as being called upon to play in public marches, processions and festivals (see Northern Constabulary photograph above), bands compete in Pipe Band Championships. They range in age from some relatively recently formed to those such as Lothian and Borders Police Pipe Band which goes back to1882... Read More

  • Samhuinn

    Samhuinn was an ancient Gaelic harvest festival, marking the arrival of winter. An annual event on Edinburgh's Royal Mile reimagines and celebrates what was a highly significant event in the ancient Celtic calendar. An important element of Samhuinn was the belief that this time of the year was a liminal zone where the barrier between the lands of the dead and living was less distinct than during the rest of the year.... Read More

  • Scots Fiddle Festival

    The festival, which takes place over a November weekend (Friday to Sunday) in the Assembly Roooms, Edinburgh, is run by the Scots Fiddle Festival Ltd, with the aim of promoting and sustaining traditional fiddle music. It features a variety of concerts, recitals and workshops. ... Read More

  • Scottish Wedding

    The Scottish Wedding Reception Most Scottish weddings take place in mid to late afternoon and are then followed by a formal reception or party with a wedding meal. At the wedding meal toasts are made to the bride (by the Groom) and to the bridesmaids (by the 'Best Man' - the Groom's best friend and assistant). Speeches are usually made by the Bride's father and, occasionally nowadays, by the bride. Later in the evening the wedding dance begins, led by the bride and groom who are then joined in the 'first... Read More

  • Sma' Shot Day

    Sma' Shot Day is one of the oldest workers’ festivals in the world. Sma' (Small) Shot Day celebrates the historic victory of the weavers over their employers in 19th century Paisley and has developed into an annual celebration of arts and culture. The Sma' (small) Shot itself was a cotton thread which bound all the colourful weft threads into the warps of the celebrated shawls. The shot was, however, undeen in the final product, and consequently the manufacturers refused to pay for it. The workers, the... Read More

  • Stag Nights

    These have generally deteriorated into simply a night-out to mark the husband-to-be's 'last night of freedom' as a single man. Those taking part are the prospective groom, his male friends and male relations. It can still often involve dressing up (often of everyone concerned - see understated T-shirt approach in photograph above) when traditionally only the groom was humiliated on the night through Blackening. Stag nights can now stretch to entire weekends away or short trips abroad.... Read More

  • Tradfest

    Each year Edinburgh is home to Tradfest TradFest celebrates Scotland’s May festivals – Beltane and Mayday – which traditionally mark the beginning of summer, bringing energy and colour to the capital city as the greening of the year breaks out. Venues include Calton Hill, the Royal Mile, The Pleasance, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Filmhouse, Queens Hall, Summerhall, George Square Theatre and Dance Base. The TradFest Trail highlights craft shops, galleries, pub sessions, instrument makers, book... Read More

  • Tranent Gala Day

    The gala, featuring music, games, stalls and displays, traditionally occurs at the beginning of June in the East Lothian town of Tranent.... Read More

  • Up Helly Aa

    The enduring influence of the Vikings, who arrived in Shetland just over 1000 years ago, is celebrated on the last Tuesday of January every year by fire festivals across Shetland. The events are annual and now take place in mid-Winter, having in some cases evolved from end of year festivities. The centrepiece of these events is a torch-lit procession, culminating in the torching of a replica Viking longship. Lerwick ‘Up Helly Aa’: this is the largest fire festival in Europe. However, this is not the onl... Read More

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